Archive | November, 2011

hookin’ season

28 Nov

Do you craft?  For fun?  For the holidays?  I crochet year round, but once the chill really takes hold my hands start to ache for projects.

I am guilty of giving my children less than perfect attention whilst daydreaming about my yarn and hook.  Not that I don’t straight up sneak it into our days when I can.  Oh, I do.  But, sometimes I want to turn [something with Cary Grant instead of Kipper the Dog] on Netflix, sip some cocoa, and work up a project without having to worry if I have placed my scissors within reach of tiny hands.  KnowwutImsayin.

Lately, I’ve been eking out time to work on a holiday gift for my mother-in-law.

I don’t often make gifts for people.  There are just too many things I want to make for myself and my kiddos and not enough hours in the day.  However, my MIL is sentimental, perhaps overly so, and I know she will truly appreciate a handmade object.

I am trying to take it slow and enjoy the rhythm of this simple project, but in my head I am always thinking about the next project or even the project after next.  The only time Winter doesn’t seem long enough is when I think of it in terms of crochet projects.  This is the yarn season, and the clock is ticking.

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{recappin’} thanxvegan 2011

25 Nov

Oh. Mah. Goodness.  Yesterday was nuts.  The food was yummy, and the company was stellar.  This morning I reheated green bean casser ole, roast, and a roll on the stove and dumped it all into a bowl.  Thanksgiving breakfast bowl for the win.

Usually, when I’m making this many new-to-me dishes there is bound to be miss, but astoundly it was an entirely miss-less meal.  The Fat Free Vegan Green Bean Casserole lived up to the hype (and that’s coming from a self-professed green bean hater), the cake was successfully veganized, and my gracious that roast was aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing.

Tru fax, that might have been the best seitan roast of my life.  The bite was tender but not chewy.  It was well-seasoned where so many roasts over or under season.  I just keep looking off and shaking my head because there. are. no. words.  It was so good.  I am thinking of making another one soon because all that remains of this one is a little end piece for my husby’s lunch.

I did deviate from the recipe in several ways.  I added liquid smoke because I don’t have smoked paprika, and then I just forgot to add regular paprika.  I blended my gluten in a food processor (instead of in a mixer or by hand).  And, since I got a late start, I put it in the slow cooker overnight on low instead of in the oven for three hours.

Okay, and the Four Layer Sweet Potato cake…

(please ignore lack of cake decorating skillz)

It was delicious.  But SO rich.  But delicious.  But rich.  Basically, it was all I hoped for.

I’ll post my finalized Brown Sugar Buttercream frosting soon.  I scrapped the first batch and created something even better the second time around.  My only regret is that I didn’t make a larger batch so I could be more liberal in my frosting of the cake.

Around these parts we’ve had a nice, mellow (or the toddler equivalent of mellow) Friday.  I saw fit to exert myself just enough to make the VPITS Pumpking Cheesecake, it was cut yesterday due to time crunch and belly hunger.  I hope, whatever you did this Friday, you had a good time and did not get pepper sprayed.

thanksgiving adjacent

22 Nov

… is what I’ve called the past few days.  Mostly so I can finally turn on Christmas music without feeling completely absurd, but also because I have thought about the big meal almost non-stop.

Holidays definitely motivate me to go the extra mile in the kitchen.  It’s one of the few times I make fancy seitan roasts, and I look forward to it each season.  This year I was struggling to decide betwixt these two roasts (click pics for original source):

-OR-

I finally decided on the latter, Seitan Roast with Sausage and Pear Stuffing and Onion-Cider Gravy, because it is a little smaller and because it’s seitan stuffed with seitan.  Get IN me already!

This will be the second year I’m celebrating the holiday with my girl, Erika.  She’s a fellow Navy wife (so both our husbies are working through the holiday), and I love hanging out with her because 1. she’s totally down with Thanxvegan 2. her son is basically my three year old’s idol and 3. she’s easy on the eyes (she also has a lovely, completely hilarious personality. blahdy, blah, blah…).  She’s also a delight to share a kitchen with.  Thank goodness, because between my special lady friend and I there is gonna be so much cooking!

We were gchat’ing about it last night, and our menu is bitchin’.

It also turns out Erika’s birthday is Thanksgiving adjacent (thank you, Facebook).  So, I dug around on Pinterest for a Thanksgiving-y Birthday cake, and this amazing beast is what I found.  In case you didn’t click the link, that’s a “4-Layer Sweet Potato & Ginger Layer Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling, Candied Pecans and Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Buttercream.”  In other words, a friggin’ mouthful.  Is any of it vegan?  No.  Do I plan to veganize it all?  Yes.

Obviously, I have a lot on my plate (har, har).  That’s why I’m starting my cooking today.  I’ve got a grocery list.  My kitchen is cleaner than it was a day ago.  Let’s do this!

twinkle lights, blankets, and cocoa! oh my!

19 Nov

I have got to re-up my supply of long underwear because it is getting cold.  And dark.  So dark.  So cold.

(outside time with the boys)

Last Winter, I felt trapped in the house by pregnancy, a rather unruly toddler, and the icy horror show that was once my sidewalk.  At the end of January I had my baby, it seemed like our cabin fever was about to break, and then we had a FOREVER WINTER.  I love the North and I love Winter, but it was too much.

My goal for this Winter is to get some time outside every day it isn’t below 10… Okay, maybe 20… If it is above freezing we’re definitely spending time outside.

We are going to suit up.  I am getting warm winter gear in order for the whole family– Related note, legit baby snow boots (not decorative booties) are not super easy to come by.  I’d love to get a toboggan and take the kiddos for rides.  Maybe go snowshoeing.  This year we reclaim Winter for our family.

(felix, december 2009)

I really want to enjoy this season because it can be very grey if you let it, and it does last a very long time even when it isn’t pushing itself into May.  Besides, Winter has a lot of good in it, too.  Say it with me, “Twinkle lights, blankets, and cocoa! Twinkle lights, blankets, and cocoa!”

 

 

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hasselback potatoes

17 Nov

hasselback potatoes

These suckas have been blowing up my Pinterest. I oiled, salted, and otherwise seasoned a sweet potato and a russet potato. I definitely prefered the sweet.

Both ended up just a touch undercooked– I had a impatient, in-the-midst-of-a-nervous-breakdown nine month old nipping at my heels (not literally at my heels. babies and ovens = boo).  Even underdone, I could tell theys were heading in a very delicious direction. Definitely going to have a do-over some night soon.

heirloom baby blanket redux

15 Nov

Before my second son was born, my mother sent me this crocheted rainbow blanket (with matching sweater and booties) that a friend of her’s had made while she was pregnant with me.

She has been tucking away little treasures like this from my brother’s and my childhood (as well as her’s and my father’s) that she could one day pass them on.  Unfortunately we live states away from each other. Only mailable memories make the cut now. I’m more upset about the physical distance betwixt my children and their grandparents, but it does pain me that many family heirlooms have gone unused due to distance.

Maybe that’s why I became obsessed with recreating this blanket.  I don’t love the pattern, and I am not keen on the colors.  Really, its value is in the gesture.  I can imagine my mother, not much older than I am now, folding it up and putting it away with the thought that maybe one day it would warm her baby’s babies.  That is priceless.

Before he was born, I crocheted a new blanket for my son, but it was not really what I had envisioned (bad yarn, meh colors, certainly not heirloom worthy).  I do use the rainbow blanket often, but the yarn is rough with age and the colors are not my favorite.  I felt like there was a gap on my couch where a better blanket should lay.  So, it got in my head that I would make my own rainbow blanket, with nicer yarn and brighter colors, using the original as my guide.

I started in April.  I chose yarn of a heavier weight.  So, I knew my blanket would be bigger, but I didn’t realize just how much bigger.  My heirloom baby blanket redux turned into a big ol’ family blanket.

It took me until August to tame this beast– Not bad considering how many unfinished blankets I’ve stashed in secret locations throughout my apartment.  Truthfully, I still have to sew in a bunch of the yarn ends (ask me which part of crochet I hate the most).  I have been snuggling with it non-stop since I finished crocheting the border and sweater weather hit, unsewn ends be damned.

I started out really underwhelmed by this pattern, motivated only by sentimentality, but it has completely won me over.  I hope to spend many hours cuddled with my children beneath it.  I want to spend years imbuing it with the kind of love and hope that my mom folded into that first blanket as she put it away for safe keeping.

First, I have got to finish sewing in those ends.

Iron Chef Challenge November — Breadcrumb Battle —

13 Nov

The Vegan Month of Food may be over, but the ladies over at the VeganMofo blog are still bringing it.  The second Friday of every month they’ll be holding a Vegan Iron Chef Challenge, and this month it’s a Breadcrumb Battle.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly a food innovator.  I find good recipes that work for me, and then, if I’m really letting loose, I try to modify them to suit my tastes and ingredients on hand.  So, for this challenge, I’m adapting a recipe I’ve long loved that takes quite well to tweaking, Dreena Burton’s Rosemary Seasoned Tofu Balls from Vive le Vegan.

I usually use the same basic quantities as Dreena but change up the veg and seasoning to suit my tastes.  She calls for red peppers and green onions where I  like to use mushrooms and white or red onion.  But, this time I’m going straight up fall harvest on this mutha’ and adding in some roasted butternut squash.

I’ve always thought that these balls had a tangy bite that was almost cheezy, and I think the squash compliments that well.  I’d like to call them Baked Cheezy Squash Balls, but I’m worried I’m the only one who thinks they taste anything like cheeze.  They ARE tangy, herby, butternutty goodness though.  So, let’s just call them Butternut Squash Tofu Balls…

Ingredients

  • half block extra firm tofu (drained and pressed)
  • 1/2 C roasted butternut squash
  • 1 med to small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 T miso
  • 1 T acv
  • 1 1/2 T ketchup
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp each any other seasonings you enjoy (I’m not going to pretend I know anything about what pairs well with what, but sage would probs be good)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 C bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

Puree tofu, onion, squash, and garlic in food processor/blender until smooth.  Add everything but bread crumbs and blend.  Transfer to big bowl and combine with bread crumbs.

Form into balls about two tablespoons deep (heh).    Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Should make around 28 balls.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Will be golden brown.  They taste good out of the oven, but they firm up and the flavors meld if left overnight.

These are great covered in pasta sauce and eaten with noodles, but sometimes I sneak them straight outta the fridge, completely undressed, and just nom them up cold.